Thomas Burberry founded the luxury fashion house in 1856 when he was just 21 years old. He started his career in the fashion world as a draper’s apprentice until he opened his own store in England. By 1870, his business had a solid reputation for its development of outdoor attire.
Thomas Burberry is credited with developing a new form of fabric that was utilized in his outdoor clothing. This fabric, known as gabardine, was water-resistant and hardwearing yet breathable. As such, it helped to protect the wearer from the elements while still remaining comfortable.
By 1891, he had opened an emporium in London. This emporium still serves as the company’s corporate headquarters. Fifteen years after opening the emporium, he designed the registered trademark of the Burberry line: an equestrian knight with the Latin word “Prorsum,” which means “forwards.”
The company made headlines when it outfitted Roald Amundson, who was the first to reach the South Pole, in 1911. He gained more attention in 1914 when he was responsible for outfitting Ernesst Shackleton, who was the man responsible for leading an expedition that went across Antarctica. The War Office then commissioned him to make changes to their officer coats in order to better suite their conditions, which lead to the development of the trench coat that became popular among civilians after the war was over. The company also designed a number of specialized aviation garments, such as those worn by Betsy Kirby Green and A.E. Clouston when they posted the fasted flying time from London to Cape Town in 1937.
Today, Burberry remains a distinctive line of luxury clothing and other types of apparel, such as handbags, swimwear, and lingerie. Its trademarked black, red, and white check pattern that was first used in its line of trench coats – known as novacheck – is copied by lines around the world. The checked design can now also be found on its luggage, scarves, umbrellas, and other items.
Branded Burberry franchises and stores can be found around the world, with its most recent addition being opened in July of 2007 in Austin, Texas. The company also sells its products through third party stores and has a successful catalogue business. The company also has its own exclusive line of fragrances.